Satan's Graffiti

Jun 30, 2011

I'm re-reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp again with some ladies from my church.  I continue to be blessed and challenged by Ann's words.

Our discussion on Chapter 5, What in the world, in all this world, is grace? brought to mind again how God had intended for life on this earth to be glorious, until sin entered the world.  Ann really hit home for me how Satan derailed that plan.

"The spirit-to-spirit combat I endlessly wage with Satan is this ferocious thrash for joy.  He sneers at all the things that seem to have gone hideously mad in this sin-drunk world, and I gasp to say God is good.  The liar defiantly scrawls his graffiti across God's glory, and I heave to enjoy God...and Satan strangles, and I whiten knuckles to grasp real Truth and fix that beast to the floor."

God is good ALL THE TIME, but Satan has warped our world.  I pray that today we can clearly recognize those areas of our lives that Satan is influencing.  Ask God to show you, and He will!


Keeping my Girls Busy this Summer

Jun 29, 2011

Summertime brings lots of hours to fill for my girls!  It sure seems like the boredom hits awfully fast!  This summer I actually made a list to put on the fridge for when I hear those words, "Mom, there's nothing to do......!"  I can just send them to the kitchen to check the list for ideas.

How about getting the sewing machine out and letting their imagination go wild?  Today's project found my girls making puppets with scraps of fabric and felt.

Anytime we get the water out, fun is at hand.  Try suggesting they make up games with friends.

Give up a corner of your living room and dump the legos!  We let the kids leave them out for several days and they always find themselves back over there building.
A trip to the library is always in order.  Find a good book for yourself while you let them wonder and play.  Before you know it, the whole afternoon is gone!

Remember those yard games?  Our kids loved learning croquet!  Invite another family over and you've got yourself a competition!!
We recently purchased a four pack of water guns.  This was good for an entire afternoon of fun with friends.

Have you seen the new swimming pools?  We made a small investment of only $60 and purchased one.  The girls are in and out of it all day long!  It doesn't take the place of the city pool, but it sure is fun to jump right in your own in the back yard!
Don't be afraid to let them get messy!  If you have to, set up a card table in the back yard and let them go to town with the paints!  You might be surprised at the little Picaso that emerges.

There's a lot of hours this summer, fill it with fun!!


The Book of Acts and a new Resource

Jun 27, 2011

One of the great ways to learn and grow as a family is to study God's word together.  As we've been going through the Book of Acts, I recently discovered a website that I want to share with you. 

Scripture Adventures has all kinds of great curriculum for kids to learn the Bible, and its not just for homeschoolers!   They not only have theme studies, but also Old and New Testament studies.  What got my attention was their study on Acts!  They graciously sent me a copy to reviews(its an ebook and was super easy to download), and I absolutely love it!  This book is full of so much information, including maps, charts, and history!  Each chapter guides your child through not only the chapter of Acts, but also the history behind it, as well as cross references and character studies.  I've learned a ton myself!

This is a terrific companion for our study here on Acts and is a great way to involve the whole family.  Go cruise around their website and check out all their great resources.  You'll even find a few freebies!


God's Plan

Jun 24, 2011

The Lord of hosts has sworn:
"As I have planned, 
so shall it be, 
and as I have purposed, 
so shall it stand."
Isaiah 14:24


Book Discussion - Why Christian Kids Rebel - Week 6

Jun 23, 2011

Dr. Tim Kimmel is the founder of  Family Matters  and the author of this great book, Why Christian Kids Rebel.  We've spent six weeks discussing how we can live authentic lives with the goal of giving our children the best example of grace and truth in action.  Our hearts as parents yearn to keep them enveloped in the family of faithful believers.  I think we have learned some fabulous lessons, both for our children and for us as their parents.

I began the journey through this book with all of you because I have a 20 year old daughter who has walked away from her faith and I desperately wanted an answer as to why that has happened.  I also have two younger girls, ages 11 and 9, who I want to protect from the same fate.  There is nothing I want more than for them to find their own faith, and to remain in their faith.

Our last chapter discussion this week is Chapter 9, Compromised Christianity.  To be honest, I think we all have to admit that our faith has been compromised at some point in our life.  There are always those times that Satan sneaks in and we don't behave as well as we could.  Little white lies slip out before we realize what words have escaped us.  Young eyes are watching us when our behavior isn't stellar.  These are the moments that prove bad examples to our children, that make them doubt the faith we profess because we aren't living it out.

Granted, this is going to happen to us all.  We can't be perfect.  Our children would be the first to admit that WE make mistakes.  The part that makes it detrimental to their faith is when we don't own up to our failures.

Last week a schoolmate of K. called at 9:20 pm.  First of all, we felt it was too late to be calling.  Secondly, we had already discussed between us that this was a friend that we were going to "dial out" of K's life because of some difficult situations that had arisen in school between the two of them.  We feel this is not a good example for K to be around.  Unfortunately, like many times when we are caught off guard, our response on the phone was that she had gone to bed and wasn't able to talk.  In reality, she was sitting on the couch listening to us lie about where she was.  HORRIBLE EXAMPLE! 

Correcting this mistake requires us to admit to our 11 year old that we just lied to her friend and that we had made a bad choice.  We need to take responsibility, just like they do.  We need to admit that we make mistakes, especially when it involves something so crucial to our faith.

I want to end our book discussion with Dr. Kimmel's list of the Top Ten Things to Remember When Dealing with Rebellious Children:

  1. Never underestimate the power of PRAYER.
  2. Remember to ask forgiveness for any ways you've failed them.
  3. Let consequences do their job.
  4. When in doubt, turn to the Bible.
  5. Don't add bitterness to their rebellion. Keep lines of communication open.
  6. Don't let your rebellious child ruin your other relationships.
  7. Make sure they know that they always have a place to repent.
  8. Be willing to be used of God to help others in the same situation.
  9. Make your life more attractive than theirs. Give them a reason to want to turn around.
  10. Don't give up. You never know when someone's heart is about to turn around.
Thanks so much for joining me through our book discussion! I hope you've learned some great lessons that will keep your family of faith intact.


This is the Way, Walk in it

Jun 22, 2011

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, 
your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 
"This is the way; walk in it." 
Isaiah 30:21

It is an amazing and scary time when you see your children transforming right before your eyes.  It can be exciting when you see them making good choices, thinking through decisions, and being responsible.  But nothing will make you fall on your knees quicker than watching children choosing wrong friends and wrong actions.  

There seems to be a pinnacle of time when suddenly parent's voices are no longer the loudest in your child's life, but rather the voice of friends.  Amazingly, those voices, no matter how contrary to their upbringing, get through because of the fear of rejection and a strong desire to fit in with those around them.

This summer our family is concentrating on listening to the voice of God above all else.  We're needing to focus on strong relationships both with family and with God.  If we're not listening for God's voice, the world's voice gets louder and louder.  It doesn't take long before our decisions reflect the world's desires rather than God's.  But He promises to guide, counsel, and protect us when we turn our attention to Him and no one else.

If you are watching closely, you most certainly will see when your child is standing at a crossroad, deciding whether to go the world's way or God's way.  Don't miss this opportunity to guide them to the right path.

"This is what the LORD says: 
"Stand at the crossroads and look; 
ask for the ancient paths, 
ask where the good way is
and walk in it
and you will find rest for your souls."
Jeremiah 6:16



Is My Conduct Worthy?

Jun 21, 2011

"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ."
Philippians 1:27

None of us is worthy of the gospel of Christ, but because of that gospel, He saved us.  We're asked to conduct ourselves in ways that shout loudly that we are different than the rest of the world.  A believer's actions and attitudes are crucial to their witness.  Someone is always watching!

Our small group families recently met at a local park to do a fun photography contest.  We broke into random groups and had a list of things of which we had to take photos.  Isn't our pyramid lovely?  Yes, that's me in the center on the bottom row.  We had 3 groups of us doing these crazy stunts all over the park.  So yes, we created quite a spectacle.  Do you think anyone asked about it?  YES!  We could then share about our small group, where we go to church, and most importantly, give an example of good clean family fun!

I've been sharing this verse with my kids as well.  It is a hard verse for them to take to heart, especially when things get hard at school or with friends.  But we continue to work on it, and hope that it sinks deep into their soul.
It's kinda like that old TV show, Candid Camera....When you least expect it....someone is watching!!!!


The Book of Acts

Jun 20, 2011

Acts 22:1-21

As we've seen from many of the lessons in Acts, Paul was quite a troublemaker, just be his mere presents.  In today's passage, we find Paul trying to attend church, but others recognize him as the Apostle.  The Jews were very unhappy with the message Paul was teaching, especially to the Gentiles.  A riot ensued as they tried to attack Paul.  But in typical Paul style, as the Roman soldiers literally are bodily carrying him out, he requests to talk with the people.

There is one thing I want to focus on today from this entire passage.  Paul starts by telling his story.  Read verses 6 & 7:

"About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me.  I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, 'Saul, Saul, Why do you persecute me?'"

Quite the attention grabber, wouldn't you say?  There was no way Saul could miss God talking with him.  God certainly had his attention.

How does God get your attention?  I know he probably is not sending a bright light from heaven.  Does He have to bring out the heavy artillery like financial problems, sickness, death, loneliness, etc. before you turn to Him?  Can you see Him sitting in your prayer place quietly waiting for you to return to time with Him?  He desperately wants to spend time with you.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13


What I Would Tell My Teenage Self

Jun 16, 2011

I am once again linking up with some fabulous Hearts at Home bloggers this week to answer the question, "If I could travel back in time and tell my teenage self one thing, what would it be?  Some might find this a difficult question, but I knew immediately  the pep talk I would give myself.

When I was 15 I started dating a guy my parents didn't think was a good match for me.  He was raised Catholic, as was my Dad, but Dad ended up leaving the Catholic church in search of a deeper Christianity.  Now I'm not bashing Catholics, I'm just saying that my parents had been through a lot personally with this scenario and wanted to save me the same pain and heartache that they had been through.

I remember so clearly, as if just yesterday, a conversation that took place at our kitchen table one evening around dinner, and I can quote myself saying to both my parents, "It's only a date, it's not like we are getting married."  Well guess what, we did....and then we got divorced.

What would I tell myself?  Listen to the wise counsel of your parents!  For most children the the desire to find our own way often times outweighs good counsel.  We insist that we know what we're doing and what is best.  If I had listened to not only my parents, but others who didn't think we were a good match, I would certainly have saved myself a lot of heartache and this disease called depression that originated with a very difficult divorce.

Just recently my 11 year old learned this lesson for herself and I hope it sticks with her for a long time.  I made her repeat after me, "Mama knows best!"

"Plans fail for lack of counsel
but with many advisers they succeed."
Proverbs 15:22 

Be sure to visit with the other bloggers as well!


Book Discussion - Why Christian Kids Rebel - Week 5

Dr. Tim Kimmel is the founder of  Family Matters  and the author of this great book, Why Christian Kids Rebel. We're at Week 5 and a most important chapter, Cocoon Christianity.

I have to say, as a family in public schools, I wanted to stand from the rooftops and scream, "YES!"  Finally, a Christian leader who sees the virtues of leaving children in public schools and not hiding them from the world! (Ok, now I can step off my soap box and get back to business.)

I may have let the cat out of the bag, but I do agree with Dr. Kimmel's observations in this chapter.  Our family has always believed that a child protected from the world will sooner or later fall hard when introduced to the problems and temptations in the real world.  Dr. Kimmel believes that one's faith must be tested in the real world to become strong and authentic.  I loved the story of the trees in the biosphere that couldn't survive without wind, without adversity, much like our faith.

This chapter was powerful and gives us yet another glimpse of why some Christian kids rebel.


Changing My No to Yes

Jun 15, 2011

Summer has arrived, when the kids are staying up late, sleeping in, playing with friends, and swimming.  There are times they find plenty to do on their own, but then there are times when they need me to fill the gaps.  It takes a parent who says "yes" to make a summer successful.  Lately, I've been the "no" parent.  Sadly, it took my Husband pointing that out for me to realize it!  {ouch}

What makes a parent a "no-ist"?  For me?  Selfishness.  I'm usually in the middle of something when the question comes in, "Mom, can we ________________?"  Saying no is much easier than stopping what I'm doing to rearrange my day to accommodate their request.  When they are in school, I get very used to my own time, and when summer hits, it is sometimes hard to switch gears to be Mom full time.

Have you ever gotten caught in the rain, feeling frustrated that you left the umbrella in the car?  It's like that with God sometimes.  He has all the wisdom and answers that we need, but if we don't ask, we don't receive.  If we don't "put on" the protection and assurance of the Lord, it will just hang in our closet unused and useless, like that umbrella in the car.

So how do I become a "yes" Mom?  I lay it at the feet of the Lord each morning, asking Him to make me the best Mom I can be to my girls, providing each of them exactly what they need to feel loved and secure.  I ask for my wants to be put aside so I can care for my family first. 

"But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.  We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield."  Psalms 33:18-19

My shield is useless in the closet!  I'm going to put on the shield of faith and go love on my kids! YES!!



Phineas and Ferb WannaBes

Jun 14, 2011

"I know what we're gonna do today"

If you watch any Disney channel shows, I'm sure you've run across Phineas and Ferb.  The show focuses on all the things they do to pass the time on their summer vacation. Some of the shows are really quite fun.

So my two girls had a friend over and they started building a contraption right out of the Phineas and Ferb playbook.  Husband got involved and encouraged their creativity and problem solving, and what resulted was a make-shift water slide in the backyard, complete with surfboards {kinda}.

We made a big mess and probably killed some grass, but that's nothing new, we do that every summer!  Do you let your kids build crazy things in the back yard?


The Book of Acts

Jun 13, 2011

Acts 20:13-35
Paul's Sermon to the Ephesian Elders

Paul has been on this journey for three years and he is ready to head back to Jerusalem.  He is bidding a final goodbye to the elders, convinced he will never see them again.  After three years of teaching, his message has been heard.  Now he encourages them to live it! 

He holds up his own life as a testament to living for Christ and asking nothing in return.  He lived for Christ knowing that as he returned to Jerusalem, he would certainly be put back in prison and that many hardships were to face him once again.

Through it all his message is simple:  Hold Nothing Back.  
And I am convicted.

Do I serve as if owned by the Master? (v19)
Do I hesitate to speak truth no matter what? (v20)
Do I proclaim the will of God? (v27)

If you are a believer, your life is your sermon.  Paul taught thousands of sermons, but it was the way he lived his life that spoke even louder.

So for my life to speak volumes, I must keep watch over the small things that separate me from the world.  I must be on my guard and not become complacent against those who wish to distort the truth.  I must commit to God and grow in his Word as to not be caught off guard.

Are you writing a sermon with your life?  Finish the race, Christian, and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given you, testifying to the gospel of God's grace! (v24)


Book Discussion - Why Christian Kids Rebel - Week 5

Jun 9, 2011

Dr. Tim Kimmel is the founder of  Family Matters  and the author of this great book, Why Christian Kids Rebel.  We've been discussing the reasons Christian kids are leaving their faith behind.

Chapter 7 addresses Comfortable Christianity, a place easy to fall into, even for the seasoned believer.  Sometimes we can settled into a zone in our faith that feels good, safe.  But this is a place where complacency can grow.  Suddenly we're no longer living out loud for Christ.  We're no longer reaching out to others, showing our Savior in real ways.  We've contained it, maybe even hidden it, from others.

If we've fallen into this place, chances are, our children may see it as static, and anything but authentic.  Living a life for Christ must always cost us something; our time, our energy, and sometimes our pride.  But if we are willing to give, to serve, to stretch, to live adventurously for the Kingdom of God, our faith will be transparent and contagious.

"Until kids find something worth dying for,
they don't have anything worth living for.
When they see parents who aren't willing
to be inconvenienced, let alone to die for their faith,
it's no wonder they rebel."

Let's show our children that serving the Creator is worth everything it requires: love God, trust Him, obey Him, thank Him, praise Him and use every talent He has given for His glory.


Quality Time with Husband

Jun 8, 2011

Husband and I found ourselves with no children home last night.  K is at camp and A was invited to a sleepover.  After a fun night with our small group, we headed home to an empty house.  Funny how relaxing it can be to not have bed time rituals to attend to!

This morning we slept in, snuggled, talked, and generally just hung out together.  No agenda, no kids, no timeframe.  We are spoiled a bit in the summer because of his teaching profession, but I sure love having him around more!

Do you try to carve out some alone time to just hang out together?  I highly recommend it!


Does Your Heart Need Parenting Encouragement?

Jun 7, 2011

I'm sure some of you know my sweet, sweet Georgia friend, TeriLynne!  We corresponded for months before Relevant last year and couldn't wait to meet in person! That first hug was huge and we started yammering like two high school friends right away!   I just recently got to see her again on our Spring Break when we came through Georgia on our way home from Florida.  Her blog is jam packed with encouragement and biblical knowledge!  She is an amazing writer and I just love her dearly.  I so wish she lived closer!!

She just added yet another blog to her resume, Parenting From the Overflow.  She recently wrote an ebook that you can purchase that is all about filling ourselves with the Spirit of God through the Fruits of the Spirit so that we can parent from the overflow of God's love through us to our children.  As always, it is an incredible read and very encouraging for parents who may feel like they are always running on empty!  She had me on the first page of the introduction with this simple truth,

"We must be filled with the Lord so that it overflows...pours out of us and covers those around us.  There is only one path to this end--giving our first attention, our priority attention, to our relationship with God."

It gets even better, the book is only $5 and TeriLynne is donating all the proceeds to The Mercy House Kenya! This is an incredible organization just recently started to provide support, housing, medical care and schooling for young teenage girls who have found themselves pregnant with no support.  Just look at these startling statistics:

  • Annually, 21,000 women are hospitalized from having an illegal, unsafe abortion in Kenya. (Center for Reproductive Rights)
  • Abortion is a volatile topic in Kenya.
  • 13,000 Kenyan girls are kicked out of school for being pregnant. (Center for Reproductive Rights)
  • 25% of pregnant women in Kenya are HIV positive (ObGyn in Kenya)
  • Every 30 minutes, a woman is raped in Kenya. (Nairobi Women’s Hospital)
  • Mothers often force their daughters into trading sex for food in the slums (CNN)
  • More than 20,000 children are sex trafficked in Kenya (Human Trafficking)
  • 1500 women die in childbirth every day across Africa (WHO)

It is such a worthy cause, and I hope you will enjoy purchasing TeriLynne's book knowing you are helping these young girls.

Want another great reason to visit TeriLynn's Parenting From the Overflow site?  Free printables!  Yep, she has also written a great devotion for tweens entitled, "Never Too Young, Living a Life That Matters".  Five devotions are included based on  I Timothy 4:12, "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity."  Go print it out, you'll love it!

Didn't I tell you that TeriLynne is wonderful?  I hope you'll go visit her blogs and get to know her.  You'll be glad you did!  Tell her Cherie sent you!!


The Book of Acts - God at Work

Jun 6, 2011

Acts 15:6-21 The Jerusalem Council

As we continue following Paul through Acts, today we get to listen in at the Jerusalem Council, where 300 early leaders met. Some familiar leaders of the Christian faith are present; Peter, Paul, Barnabus and James, the brother of Jesus.  Wouldn't you have just loved to be sitting in this group of spiritual giants?

They've come to a discussion once again about Jews and Gentiles.  This is taking place about 49AD, so it is amazing to think that after all this time they are still trying to sort out and reconcile in their minds that Jews and Gentiles share the same inheritance of Christ.  James seems to set them all straight when he declares, "It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God." (vs19)

I'm wondering if we too make it seem difficult to turn to God.  Do we judge others on their appearance, how they dress, their haircut, or tattoos, and decide they aren't worthy of the grace of Christ?  That they don't fit the mold? OUR mold?

Let's be reminded from Peter, "We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are." (v11)  We are all saved by grace, and nothing else.  Jesus only looks at the heart, not our outward appearance.

If we are paying attention, God is working in us and through us all the time.   Has someone different than you recently moved to your neighborhood?  Is their a new employee at your company?  Someone new to your church who might stand out a bit?  God doesn't work by chance, He works very purposefully.  Is there someone new in your life that may need YOUR grace and YOUR witness?

God is always at work.  How can you work with Him for the salvation in the lives of others?  You may have a divine appointment with someone new in your life, don't miss it!


Girls Love Legos Too!

Jun 4, 2011

It was a cold rainy Saturday this past weekend.  We were all moving slowly around the house, as everyone had slept in a bit.  The day before Husband had come up out of the basement carrying wrapped presents.  We have this strange tradition here.  We give surprise gifts sometimes on completely random days, not a holiday or a birthday, but just because we found something we thought a loved one should have.  So today was apparently one of those days!  Husband handed each of us a gift.  I got a lovely spring blouse.  The girls both opened a new Lego set.

I don't know if you have noticed, but Lego is highly swayed toward the boy market.  If you are searching for legos that "fit" for girls, you'll be searching a long time.  But one of the things that I love about my husband is that he refuses to put our girls into a box labeled "girls".  Legos are a favorite thing of his, so he has shared that love with our girls for a long time.  He really doesn't care that most would be marketed to boys, and our girls love them, no matter what the theme.

I'm so glad that Husband has not allowed gender to play a role in the toys we buy, because we would have missed out on hours of fun at our house, playing on the floor with Legos!


End of the School Year - Craziness!

Jun 2, 2011

The last week of school always brings a million things to be done, school activities to attend, teachers to appreciate, tears to shed, parties to attend.

I hope you'll check back next Thursday for our regular installment of Why Christian Kids Rebel discussion.

But today, I'm at the grade school with a few hundred kids playing all day outside! {pray for me}

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